Leishmaniasis is a vector borne disease caused by obligate, protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania. These parasites are transmitted by 30 different species of phlebotomine sand flies and replicate in mononuclear phagocytes in mammalian hosts. There is no vaccine and the drugs used for treatment are toxic and can require long periods of administration.
Leishmaniasis ranges from self-healing, asymptomatic infection to localized skin lesions, and can develop into a life-threatening progressive visceral form of disease. Leishmaniasis is one of the world’s most neglected diseases, affecting mainly very poor people in developing countries. It is prevalent throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, Southern Europe (old world) and South and Central America (new world). The disease is endemic in 88 countries, of which 72 are developing countries. Approximately 350 million people are at risk of contracting leishmaniasis and 1.5- 2 million new cases occur annually. 1
Our scientists work with colleagues at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India to understand the host immune response in people with Leishmaniasis. We have an active exchange program involving visits by students and scientists to respective laboratories, as well as training in advanced scientific techniques.